We already have an enterprise version of Dropbox. It’s called Dropbox.

Prediction: The consumerization of IT will force vendors into a new era of interoperability.

[We're going to have several articles over the next few days that cover file synchronization, mobile data management, Dropbox, and Dropbox alternatives. This article is the second of four. -Jack]

Prediction: The consumerization of IT will force vendors into a new era of interoperability.

I started thinking about this idea after reading a tweet from Brian, who wrote that Citrix Receiver won't integrate with Dropbox, but will integrate with a Dropbox competitor, ShareFile. Guess who owns ShareFile? That's right: Citrix.

Citrix isn't the only vendor trying to come up with a so-called "enterprise version of Dropbox." VMware (Project Octopus), Microsoft (SkyDrive) and others are doing the same thing. But from the end users' perspective, we already have an enterprise version of Dropbox. It's called Dropbox.

I'm not saying that any of these enterprise vendors' services are bad, or that they shouldn't try to compete with Dropbox (or Box or one of the other popular consumer cloud storage services that people now use for business). I've never used ShareFile or SkyDrive, and VMware hasn't even released Octopus yet. What I am saying is that these vendors are flooding the market with services that may not always play nice with other vendors' services, and it's going to be a nightmare for users.

We already see this issue in other areas of consumer technology. Take music, for example. I absolutely love Spotify. I think streaming is the future of music, and I happily pay 10 bucks a month to get the service on my phone.

But Spotify doesn't totally get along with iTunes, where I have more than 30 GB of music stored on my personal laptop. I can sync most of my iTunes library with Spotify, but not some DRM-protected tracks or my unnecessarily large collection of live Dave Matthews Band albums. Furthermore, my iTunes library is tied to my personal laptop, so I can't sync it with my laptop at work. I end up just listening to my iPod most of the time and switching to Spotify when I want to listen to something I don't own. It's not an ideal user experience, but imagine how much worse it would be if I also used Google Music, Amazon Cloud Player and any other new music service.

Now apply this analogy to the business world. Having to switch between different cloud storage and collaboration services to perform different tasks or access different types of data will not sit well with users. The goal of consumerization is to make business processes simpler, not recreate the old way of doing things. Business users today expect technology to "just work," and when it comes to disparate systems, they expect them to "just work together." That's why Dropbox, Box and the like have been so successful. You can install them on any device and -- poof! -- your data magically appears. They just work together.

If enterprise IT vendors want to compete against Dropbox, Box and the like, they should go for it. This market is still very new, and a lot can change. But their products also need to work with these services. At least for now, that's where the users are, and in the era of consumerization, users are also the IT decision-makers.

 

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Good points, Colin.


I do think ShareFile is more "Enteprise-ish" but that defeats the purpose of collaboration for file content. That's where DropBox excels. The access is self-delegated. That's the same reason some of the larger enterprises really like SharePoint -> They self-manage the access and roles. It's pretty easy. Same goes for DropBox.


There are only two shortcomings I see with DropBox (And I use it extensively for work) and they are:


-Owner delete:  If the owner of a folder/share deletes it, it can be confusing. Especially when multiple people are involved.


-Dropbox is not a backup: They have a few copies kept in the web UI, but officially it's not a backup. So, paranoid as I am, I do additional backups on my own.


Overall, I agree with you. I don't think these problems can be beat for the price of DropBox, so you're right!


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My problem with Dropbox is the security. It used to be that you could just take the machine ID from one client and put it into yours, and boom, you're downloading and syncing all the other person's files. They also had that issue where passwords were optional (like for 4 hours, you could enter any password for a user and get in). For some companies this might not matter. But for those who care, it's nice that there are other on-premise solutions. (RES Hyperdrive is another.)


But companies have to do something though. If they don't, then everyone will continue to use Dropbox. (The Citrix guy who said that Citrix won't integrate Dropbox was running his presentation from Dropbox!)


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I agree that companies have to do something, but they have to do something that's as easy to use and ubiquitous as Dropbox or Box or whatever. If the marketing team adopts Service A, but the editorial team uses Service B, and I'm in editorial and I need to collaborate with someone in marketing, then we're better off just using our legacy network shares.


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Your comments Brian are valid, the big issue with DropBox is governance, and for the "enterprise" there is no standard on governance. What goes where who sees what, etc.


I think, in this space, ease of use is king. Features such as security are unfortunately an afterthought.


I'm curious what VMware's Octopus will bring. I think Microsoft may be the dark horse here, but it will definitely continue to develop.


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You guys must work in a fantasy world where security around data is of no concern. While dropbox may be great for the average user there are very little controls around it from an Enterprise point of view. While ShareFile likely isn't perfect,I think it is a step in the right direction.


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Of course security is a concern, at least from IT's perspective.


The problem is, a lot of end users either don't care or don't think about security. They just want something that's easy to use and effective. The challenge is for IT to do both. But with every new "enterprise version of Dropbox" that hits the market, there will be more interoperability problems and complexity, and that will not help IT get user buy-in.


You can do all you want from a security perspective, but if you don't get user buy-in, it won't matter.


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Nick - security is the concern.


But the fact is, can you control what users will do. No.


They will do this, governance is the problem.


Enterprise in the strictest definition - no, DropBox isn't Enterprise. But, is it used in the enterprise -> You bet.


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Key is to prevent that that from 'getting out' in the first place. While easier said than done, it is a never ending battle. While I am no security zealot, I do work in an industry where ANY data leakage has the potential to cripple the company.


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Nick - that's the trick.


Policies, governance, controls, etc. still can't stop people from "finding a solution" for the tasks they have.


Blocking web services for things like DB for the corporate network is probably the most effective single step.


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We are looking at implementing Mozy stash in our company. We already use Mozy Pro to backup all our PCs in the cloud.


Mozy is also a VMware company.


The only Downside of Mozy is that it's not integrated within the apps like Dropbox is for eg. With quickoffice on the iPad but you still can open/edit files etc...


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Happy to hear that this discussion is finally lifting of the ground.


As u can remember, Brian, i am looking for a dropbox solution for enterprises, that is compatible to the " German Angst" since two years.


So just One question:


Does anyone know, why the dropbox Company is not providing a secure solution for enterprises to host in their private cloud, like on a virtual appliance?


Greetings from Old Germany, Daniel


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have a look at www.thruinc.com- I found them searching a Dropbox alternative. Currently testing their solution, a bit different- that said- it's has all the enterprise features. One is antivirus... they told me to test Dropbox and other solutions by uploading a test virus (antivirus vendors have these- harmless) however I found that most vendors allowed you to do this!!! I am


So staying away from these and going with Thru.


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